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Neoleish, the first DNA vaccine authorized in Europe against canine leishmaniasis

It is a solution for nasal spray, it is based on recombinant DNA and is the first in animal mammals and the second in the world with this technology. The Neoleish vaccine, developed by researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Zendal group, has received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), so its marketing and distribution is considered immediate.

One of the great benefits of this prophylaxis is that it reduces the risk of infection and the appearance of canine Leishmaniasis, by stimulating the immune system and provoking a protective response against the disease in uninfected dogs from 6 months of age. It is estimated that it reduces the presence of the Leishmania parasite by more than 90% and improves the clinical signs of the disease. “This is an important step because the decrease in the number of infected animals very significantly reduces the possible transmission to other dogs and humans, since leishmaniasis also affects humans,” emphasizes CSIC researcher Vicente Larraga, from the group of Molecular Parasitology at the Margarita Salas Biological Research Center (CIB-CSIC).

The report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) details that the effectiveness of the vaccine was demonstrated in a field study in which dogs were naturally exposed to ‘Leishmania infantum’ in areas with high infection pressure for a period of two years. In laboratory studies, the vaccine reduced the severity of the disease, including clinical signs and parasite load in the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes.

According to this same report, animals that receive the vaccine begin to generate immunity after 58 days and this lasts about 6 months.

What is leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the Leishmania parasite, of the trypanosomatid family, which is carried by the sand fly. The clinical manifestations of the disease range from skin ulcers that heal spontaneously to fatal forms that involve severe inflammation of the liver and spleen. According to the CSIC in a statement, between 500,000 and one million new cases occur every year. It is a zoonosis, which means it is transmitted from animals to humans.

According to the WHO, in recent years, cases of canine and human leishmaniasis have increased in Europe due to climate change and the presence of the sand fly in more northern European countries. It is considered by the WHO as a neglected tropical disease, that is, it is prevalent in tropical areas. It affects more than 1 billion people in 83 countries, most in underdeveloped areas. For this reason, researchers consider that this new vaccine represents “a milestone in terms of reducing the negative effects of the disease.”